If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you’ve probably been approached like this by someone hoping to join a Christian ministry or short-term missions team: “Hi! This is Joe/Jody Jones! I’m planning to work with (Fill in the blank) Ministry! Could we get together so I can tell you about it?” How did you respond? Did you do a quick review of your own financial situation or step into the candidate’s shoes or both? Our writer tells how God did unanticipated work in his heart and in potential supporters’ hearts as he raised support to work for IFI.
> By: Ryan Finke, IFI Communications Director
I began raising support to do full-time ministry with IFI over 20 months ago. At first, I raised support in Cincinnati while working full time as a web designer.
After Liz found a job in Columbus and we moved here, I raised support part time and worked for IFI part time. Finally, God convinced me to focus solely on raising support until He had provided completely for Liz, me, and our soon-to-be-born son.
At first, I saw raising support as an obstacle to ministry, but God has transformed my heart so much over the past 20 months that now I know it is a privilege to share what God is doing and invite others to invest in His work.
Here are three key changes God did in my heart and in those whom I’ve invited.
1. Developed Ongoing Trust
Before I started raising support, I thought I trusted the Lord a lot. But God must know I have a chronic problem of thinking highly of myself!
It was a huge challenge for Liz and me to agree that I should join the IFI staff in the first place! After we did, I realized I didn’t know how to raise support. I got discouraged when many of the people I approached told me they could not support my ministry. I wanted to give up and avoid the pain I was experiencing.
Six 6 months later, I was pretty sure that I had trusted God enough and He would just provide the rest quickly. After all, I had proven myself in trusting Him for several months! But for 14 more months, God continued to invite me to trust that He is good and He is my provider. I am very grateful to God for leading me through raising support, despite my mistakes and misconceptions, because He has grown my trust in Him more than ever before.
2. Transformed Fear into Joy
I’m also grateful for the changes God brought to my supporters’ hearts! I’ve seen a lot of initial reactions to my invitations — fear, distrust, and incredulity — but also awe, joy, and thankfulness. Many I approached grew in trust in God as they decided to support my ministry. I’ve seen God fill their hearts with joy as they learn more about the work He is doing among international students.
I have also seen supporters grow in their desire to do full-time ministry themselves because of the joy God has shown them in my life. Some have even become involved in serving international students directly!
It seems God continues to invite us all to trust Him more, no matter how much we think we already trust Him. God has certainly filled my heart with more joy and love by helping me trust Him more through support raising.
How is God inviting you to trust Him more now?
3. Taught Humility
The thing I am most grateful for is God teaching me humility. At first, I approached support raising out of my own will power and ability. I knew how: I would text or email all my friends, asking them to support me, and it would all come in! And I would work at support raising (part time, of course) for less than a year.
As the months rolled by and I did not hit my goal, God began to show me my heart: I wanted to rely on myself and earn my finances myself. After a few months of discouraging results, I started to realize this was really about whether I truly believed that God could or would provide for me!
Did I believe what the Bible said was true? For example, Jesus said, “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matt 6:25-33) In Isaiah, God said, “I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
Agreeing with something intellectually is a pretty easy, but God continued to invite me to trust Him in practical ways. Doing it was pretty scary at first, but as I saw God starting to come through, with financial support and with resolving challenges in my communications role, I began to believe that God truly is who He says He is! He humbled me, showing me that He was my provider and I was the undeserving receiver, just like a father and His child.
P.S. By mid-January 2017, God raised 100% of the finances and lots of prayer support for my work as IFI’s Director of Communications. HE IS FAITHFUL!